Twilight is a book series that, frankly, gets a lot more hate than it deserves. While it is a very stupid wish fulfillment story, it’s not really much worse than a lot of other stories that exist purely for wish fulfillment and, frankly, there are a lot of worse things out there. In 2012, Madhouse released a twenty four episode anime adaptation of the books and I’m not looking forward to watching it. Let’s face it, the only way it could possibly be any good is if it doesn’t follow the plot of the books. Let’s take a look.
Our narrative opens with a young man named Bello moving into the dormitories of a new school. Yes, they gender swapped the main character. While settling in he meets a fellow student named Jacob and the two hit it off right away. He also meets a pale upperclassmen who looks to be around his age, this is Edward. Jacob gives Bello an ominous warning to go straight to his dorm room at night and not to invite anyone in. But Bello stays out too late studying on a night with a red looking moon, because that always means good things are going to happen. While on his way he sees Edward savagely feeding on the blood of another student. This frightens him and he tries to run, but Edward chases him down, threatening to feed on him as well. Jacob shows up to save the day, forcing Edward to retreat. Back in the dorms, Jacob explains that there are vampires and they get strong and feed during the night but that Bello will be safe if he doesn’t invite anyone in since vampires can’t enter anywhere that they haven’t been invited. Meanwhile, Edward is summoned to a vampire counsel and chastised for letting himself be seen and for not killing Bello to keep him quiet. Edward explains that “the werewolf” interfered and that he couldn’t do anything without breaking their treaty. He’s ordered to find a way to kill Bello, but cautioned not to break the treaty.
Let’s start with the problem with the story. Yes, the problem is surprisingly singular. This series wastes quite a bit of time with fan-service scenes of muscular men. There are quite a few scenes that have some small impact on the plot but that are mostly used for the “hunky boys.” The threesome scene in particular. They don’t show any actual naughty bits, but they spend five minutes with the heavy implication that these characters are doing sexual things to each other.
I will give the series a lot of credit. The story is actually really compelling. It moves fairly quickly, but not to the point where it gets confusing or rushed. It also has proper vampires instead of ones that sparkle and feed on animals and they can be really intimidating. The romance is surprisingly good too. They still have the bit with Edward watching Bello sleep, but in this case it’s played up as unsettling and creepy with Edward lurking in the shadows and waiting for an opportunity to kill Bello. The age difference is also basically non-existent. Edward isn’t some creep old dude who uses his young body to prowl for High School girls, or boys in this case, he’s actually still in High School, having been turned when he was Bello’s age two years ago. The climax is amazing too.
The characters are actually really well done. The series does a lot to develop the dynamic between werewolves and vampires and how they came to an uneasy alliance. Edward actually has a really interesting story arc about regaining what it means to be human and trying to contain the savagery that’s a part of him now. The most surprising is Bello. In the original books, this character was dull and one-dimensional so that anyone could project themselves onto her. In this, he’s a really well developed character with motivations that are really compelling. He starts out needing to be rescued, but he quickly figures out ways to keep himself safe and actively participates in events. He even comes to Edward and Jacob’s rescue at one point using nothing but his own cleverness. And this isn’t the faux cleverness that you get in some series where a character only looks clever because everyone else is being a moron. He is legitimately clever.
The art in this is really strong with great character designs, amazing action sequences, and detailed backgrounds. I actually really like what they do with the architecture, giving it a subtly Gothic look. The series is also good at conveying atmosphere with its art. My one problem is that it delves into the fan-service a bit with it. But it’s a pretty minor complaint given that the scenes where the costuming is just focused on fan-service are very few.
The cast is really strong in this too. It’s actually a bit like a Slayers reunion. Our main three are voiced by Ishida Akira, Matsumoto Yasunori & Midorikawa Hikaru. Takahito Koyasu also shows up to voice our antagonist, the head of the vampire counsel, giving a really unsettling performance. The music is really good too. Like the art, it’s really good at enhancing the atmosphere.
It’s got a lot. One of the main focuses is the love triangle with Bello, Edward & Jacob. There are a few sex scenes. You know, I always thought people who referred to Twilight as “gay” were immature and trying to deride it in a really stupid way, but now I get it. They were talking about this anime, not the original books or the Hollywood film franchise that are pretty much among the straightest things out there. No, they were just describing the anime version and making a factual point.
This anime is surprisingly good. It has a superb story, amazing characters and features art and sound that enhance the experience. If you’re a fan of the original books you probably won’t like it since it barely resembles them. Otherwise, I actually recommend it. My final rating is an April Fool’s, this doesn’t really exist out of a sorry if I got your hopes up. The real review will be up tomorrow. It’s going to be Madhouse’s take on the X-men and it’s going to be really nerdy.